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Choice USA briefing illuminated the fight for reproductive justice

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Tuesday, we had our first Summer Academy training event, where Choice USA came to speak to us about reproductive justice. 

Choice USA is an organization that I didn't know a lot about, but knew I supported. I have been an advocate for choice ever since I was informed enough about the issue to have an opinion, and I have only become more and more committed to this in recent years. I'm relatively open-minded on some political issues, especially economic ones, but there are a few social issues on which I could never see myself budging. Improving access to abortion, reducing the stigma surrounding it, and attempting to address underlying issues that cause women (1) to end up having to make this difficult choice are, to me, nonnegotiable goals.

After Choice USA's presentation, however, I realized I was even more of a supporter of their efforts than I had previously thought.

For one, I appreciate their focus on training young leaders for the reproductive justice movement. I think this should be an integral part of all progressive organizations' strategies, and I'm glad to see ChoiceUSA embracing it.

I also was very interested to learn that the term "reproductive justice" has a much broader definition than I would have thought. It focuses not only on access to safe and legal abortion, but also on creating a more sex-positive culture, placing marginalized groups in the forefront of deciding the organization's message, and just generally giving marginalized groups the agency and opportunity to make informed, free decisions about their own bodies. The acknowledgement of intersectionality (2) was incredibly refreshing as well. I don't think I'd ever heard that term before outside of online discussions, so it was quite an experience to be at a real-life presentation that actually included the definition in their brief list of terms.

I was pleased to see how inclusive of transgender/transsexual people Choice USA's presentation was. At the beginning, they asked us to state our preferred pronouns while introducing ourselves. This goes even farther than the normal safe space etiquette I'm used to, where one is expected to politely ask a person's preferred pronouns, if they are unsure. When everyone is asked to state their preferred pronoun, gender-ambiguous people are not singled out, an experience that can be very stressful no matter how polite everyone is about it. 

All in all, Choice USA's presentation was fascinating and inspiring. They showed a video of spoken word artist Sonya Renee performing a piece called "What Women Deserve," which you can see at

Some people worry that it will always be difficult for pro-choice groups to counter the incredibly emotional arguments used by anti-choice groups, but that performance makes it clear that pro-choice and reproductive justice arguments are not emotionless, by any means.

I left the briefing feeling both informed and energized to make change; Choice USA has certainly gained a strong supporter.


1: Some trans or intersex men may also find themselves in a situation where they must choose whether or not to have an abortion, an issue that sometimes deserves a bit more acknowledgement in the pro-choice movement. Non-trans women are obviously the most affected by the issue though, and so I hesitate to make the language I use when speaking about abortion entirely gender-neutral, because it can be misinterpreted as trying to give non-trans men too much of a voice in the discussion. Going into this in the middle of the above paragraph would have been majorly derailing, but I did want to address it.


Photo from Choice USA


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